Ethical volunteering abroad is not just about you as a volunteer making sure you are volunteering for the right reasons and volunteering in a responsible and sustainable way, although this is undoubtedly important. It most commonly refers to the actions and running of the volunteer abroad organization itself. In this article we will go over both aspects of this to make sure your volunteer abroad experience is as ethical as it can be.
The only way you can truly develop a community is if you understand them and their needs. The only way you can truly understand what the community needs is to be open-minded and ready to learn. Try to understand the root causes of the problems they face and what their actual goals are. Not only will this make you a more effective volunteer during the project, but will also give you the knowledge and understanding that will help you out with future volunteer abroad projects you may wish to take part in.
Whilst it is possible to take part in most volunteer abroad projects regardless of your skills and experience, if you want to be a truly ethical volunteer whilst you are abroad, you should endeavour to join a project to which you can really contribute. Be honest about your skills on your application so that the organisation can place you where your skills will be most useful.
There are a huge number of volunteer abroad organizations, most of which seem to offer more or less the same thing. Sometimes, volunteers are confused by the vast difference in price between seemingly identical programs and projects. One thing which can explain these price differences is the way in which the projects are run. This can be to do with how they take care of their volunteers an also how socially and environmentally conscious they are. There are unfortunately many volunteer abroad organizations whose model relies on keeping communities dependent on them so that they can run endless programmes. The most ethical volunteer abroad organizations truly aim to help communities in a sustainable way, giving them the ability to sustain themselves after the project is over. Have a good look at the organisation’s website to see how they address sustainability and get in touch to find out their values.